Recently, we discovered an unpaid medical bill (from a laboratory) from 2014 that had apparently been overlooked by Don. He’s not great with administrative and paperwork-related tasks (sorry, honey!), so it was mid-2016 before a collections notice came to the house and I realized that this bill was more than 2 years overdue!
Of course, a LOT had happened in those 2 years, so it wasn’t as simple as just going ahead and paying it off. In the interest of full disclosure, it wasn’t a huge amount – around $200. However, given the numbers of other medical bills we’re dealing with right now, and Don not able to work, we didn’t see an easy way to just pay this one.
So, thinking back to our recent experience in settling credit card debt, I placed a call into the collections company, Credit Collection Services (www.ccspayment.com), which had been assigned this debt.
I explained our situation, that he wasn’t working, and that we had some money available to try and address a whole host of medical bills, but that we wouldn’t be able to pay in full. Next, I asked whether it was possible to settle this matter, and made a settlement offer of $60 (30%). I was placed on hold while the associate spoke with his supervisor, and when he returned, I was advised that it could be settled for 50%, but that they were not authorized to go any lower by the original creditor, who apparently still owned the debt.
Thinking About Trying To Settle Unpaid Medical Bills Yourself?
In case you have medical or other bills to settle yourself, here are some quick and dirty tips for making that phone call:
- If you aren’t personally good on the phone, or are nervous about making the call, try enlisting a trusted friend or family member to do it for you (I made the call for Don; he had to come on the line briefly to authorize them to speak to me).
- Understand that to the collections agency, this isn’t personal – you are just one of hundreds of calls they take each day.
- Don’t worry about being judged for making a settlement offer; remember that you’re trying to do the right thing by addressing the debt, even if you can’t pay it all.
For more advice on how to try to settle debts on your own, visit consumerrecoverynetwork.com for really great recommendations on how to approach DIY debt settlement.
At this point in the phone call, I asked that he document our conversation, and said that I would have to discuss it with Don and get back to them.
I actually reached out to our settlement advisor who was helping with the credit cards, to see whether he thought this was a good deal, or if I should push harder. He advised me that actually medical bills frequently don’t settle at all, and that we should definitely take the 50% offer.
Success: Paying the Final Settlement
So, this morning, I called CCS back and told them that I was willing to make a payment immediately if the 50% offer, to settle the full unpaid medical bill, was still on the table. They approved the settlement and took a debit card over the phone.
I can’t help being elated by this ‘win’ – I know it’s not a huge amount of money, around $100 saved, but even knocking out one medical debt at this point is something to be grateful for. While I’m on the subject – we’re incredibly lucky to have the money to be able to settle for 50%, while I know many aren’t that lucky.
One down, many more to go….but I know that this is all part of the process, and while I’m still not thrilled about settling some of our debts, I know that this is the right thing for us right now, given our finances and health situations.